Click here for a photo recap of the 2016 event

Each team starts with a 12-foot-tall, 25-ton block of snow. Photo by Carl Scofield

Each team starts with a 12-foot-tall, 25-ton block of snow. Photo by Carl Scofield

UPDATED: 11/4/2016

Every January, dozens of people come to Breckenridge with cheese graters and wooden spoons in hand. This group of dedicated snow lovers are some of the best professional sculptors and snow artists in the world.

Hand-picked to spend 65 hours in a heated race, the 16 teams will work day and night Jan. 24-28, 2017 to chip, carve and carefully sculpt the 12-foot-tall, 25-ton blocks of snow into an artistic wintry display.

Snow Sculpture Teams

The competition is comprised of 16 teams, typically announced by early November.

Each team includes four artists, many of whom are internationally-known snow artists with backgrounds in sand, snow, ice and rock sculpting, among many other credentials.

The 2017 teams: China, Finland, Germany (Theil), Great Britain (Annaly), Iceland, India, Italy, Mexico, Mongolia (Erdene), Mongolia (Tserendash), Sweden, Turkey, USA-Breckenridge, USA-Loveland, USA-Vermont, USA-Wisconsin (Tomczak)

About the Breckenridge International Snow Sculpture Championships

Snow carving in Breckenridge dates back to the late 1960s and early 1970s. Now in its 27th year, the sculptures have progressed. Throughout the five days (65 hours) of sculpting, teams create enormous works of art from 12-foot-tall, 25-ton blocks of machine-made Colorado snow.

Artists create their pieces without the use of power tools, internal support structures or colorants. Some teams, such as Team Mexico, prepare for the competition by practicing in sand. One of the unique aspects of this event is style. Some teams cultivate very abstract pieces, while others are very realistic. Other creations are inspired by the culture of their country or even have a social and political significance.

Here is a progression of Team Lithuania's sculpture over the 65 hours of carving. Photo by Carl Scofield

Here is a progression shot of Team Lithuania’s sculpture over the 65 hours of carving. Photo by Carl Scofield

The free event gives rise to a temporary outdoor sculpture gallery in the center of downtown Breckenridge. At the close of the competition, judges award Gold, Silver and Bronze prizes, along with the Artists’ Choice award. Two categories are open to public voting: People’s Choice and Kids’ Choice. As the 2017 event progresses, keep an eye out on the @GoBreck social pages to vote for your favorites in the Social Media Award. Winners receive no money; instead, they receive recognition throughout the international snow sculpting community.

Schedule

The sculpting event takes place at the Riverwalk Center, located at 150 W. Adams Avenue.

Stomping Week: January 16-21, 2017
International Snow Sculpture Championships: January 24-28, 2017
Fire Arts Festival: January 26-29, 2017
Snow Sculpture Viewing Week (weather permitting): Through February 5, 2017

As you can see, Team Germany uses snow to hold up the delicate areas before the judging to ensure their sculpture stays intact. Photo by Carl Scofield

As you can see, Team Germany uses snow to hold up the delicate areas before the judging to ensure their sculpture stays intact. Photo by Carl Scofield

6 fun facts

  1. Teams use home-made tools, for example, a modified cheese grater from their kitchen cabinets
  2. The last 16 hours of the competition are spent carving through the night until the judging at 10 a.m. Saturday morning
  3. This is the 27th year of the Snow Sculpture Championships in Breckenridge
  4. In the past, Team Argentina was the only team with all female artists
  5. The blocks of snow are created by stomping the snow…by foot. We call it “Stomping Week”
  6. The sculptures are supported ONLY by snow. There are no internal supports allowed

By the numbers

  • 4: artists per team
  • 12 feet: height of each blank block before sculpting begins
  • 65 hours: total time allowed for competitors to sculpt across the 5 days of competition
  • 250: teams are invited to compete; only 16 are selected
  • 400 tons: total amount of snow to create blocks for 16 teams
  • 1990: the first year of the Breckenridge International Snow Sculpture Championships
  • 50,000 pounds: weight of each block before sculpting begins

Fire Arts Festival

Started in 2015 by Breckenridge Creative Arts as a complement to snow sculpture’s 25th anniversary, the Fire Arts Festival this year runs Jan. 26-29. This fiery contrast of burning sculptures, pyrotechnical effects and other spark-filled attractions takes place throughout the Breckenridge Arts District in the heart of downtown. Visit BreckCreate.org for more information as it becomes available.

More information

As the event gets closer, visit GoBreck.com for more detailed information such as schedule, a program of this year’s teams, and more.

 

 

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